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LOOSE ENDS                                          235
be taxed like ordinary mortals. Again, it i,^ undeniable that in
a few of the smaller States there are grave abuses of the peoples*
rights, and monstrous perversions of justice, to say nothing of
private debaucheries which defy description. The British, of
course, step in when 'things have gone too far/ but the general
feeling is that they do not step in soon enough. The lurid melo-
drama of more than one Maharajah should have been nipped in
the bud during the first act instead of being allowed to run its-
course of murder and intrigue.
British policy towards the States is, on the whole, realistic. We
have indicated to tbe rulers that if they whh to survive they must
bring their institutions up to date. We hav constantly urged the
revision of the treaties in a modern direction and occasionally we
have succeeded in winning our point. But after all, the treaties
do exist, and have existed for a hundred years; many of the
signatories to these treaties have been loyal and active subjects of
the Empire ; with the exception of foreign policy they have been
confirmed in rights which they naturally guard with jealousy and
pride.1 To tear up the treaties as though they were so many
scraps of paper would not only be an act of perfidy but it might set
in train a disastrous series of commotions and civil disturbances:
Some of the Princes have well-trained armies who would follow
them to the death. In the absence of an overruling British power,
and in the event of a precipitate British withdrawal, there is no
knowing what these armies might do, nor when they might march.
The soil of India—till the British came—had been stained through
the centuries with the blood of countless civil wars; there seems
no justification for assuming that history may not repeat itself.
However, facts are more important than speculations, and in
this section we have adduced enough facts to indicate that the
true story of the States is very different from that which Congress
would have us believe. We have deliberately refrained from
dwelling on the decorative side of the States, although even the
most ardent Congressman, presumably* would regret the extinc-
1 George V reaffirmed Britain's promises to the Princes in the most uncomprom-
ising words.. .'Ever to maintain the privileges, rights and dignities of the Indian
Princes, vho may rest assured that this pledge is inyiolate and inviolable.*